GENEVA - The United Nations is appealing for a record $41 billion to help 183 million of the world's most vulnerable people suffering from multiple crises, including poverty, hunger, conflict, and the impact of COVID-19.
U.N. officials report an estimated 274 million people worldwide will require emergency aid and protection next year. This is a 17-percent increase from 2021.
U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths cites long lasting conflicts, political instability, failing economies, climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic as the main drivers of need.
"There are 45 million people at risk of famine worldwide. One percent of humanity is displaced, and it would be no surprise to all of us that women and girls continue to suffer the most, just as civilians continue to suffer the most in war," he said.
Griffiths said humanitarian aid can limit the worst consequences of existing and emerging crises. For example, he said U.N. aid brought back half a million people from the brink of famine in South Sudan this year. He said aid agencies delivered health care for 10 million people in Yemen and helped vaccinate millions of others against killer diseases in Myanmar.
FILE - Children carry bags on their head as they walk through the flooded fields near Malualkon in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, South Sudan, Oct. 20, 2021.
While aid does save lives, he notes it is no solution. He said humanitarian aid does not replace development assistance.
"And we see in many countries-Afghanistan is just one most recent example. Humanitarian assistance is not a remedy for the people of Afghanistan. It is not the way to stabilize societies. One of the tragedies of the situation in Ethiopia that we see now as a result of that conflict, is the erosion of the development gains over the last 40 years," he said.
Griffiths considers the crisis in Ethiopia to be the most alarming in terms of immediate emergency needs. He notes nine million people in northern Ethiopia's Amhara, Afar and Tigray regions are seriously short of food.
Of those, he says five million people in Tigray are suffering from acute hunger, with 400,000 on the verge of famine. He said he is very worried about the rebel military advance on the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, warning it will have a seismic effect on the rest of the country, engulfing the entire region.